IT was one monster of the deep Edinburgh angler Jim Reid was happy to encounter.
Fishing on the River Tweed with boatman Ian Farr, Jim felt the familiar tug on his line, little thinking he was about to land the “catch of a lifetime” and the biggest salmon to be caught in the area this year.
But the 37-pounder was only subdued after a 40-minute struggle in which Jim and his boatman were dragged 150 yards down the river after their quarry took the bait in Bemersyde Estate on a quiet Wednesday morning last week.
Jim, previously a chief technical officer for Edinburgh microchip major Wolfson Microelectronics, said: “It felt like we’d hooked a large dog. At one point an enormous tail came out of the water that looked like a shovel – I think we both swore when we saw it. It was at that point we realised how big it was.”
A desperate battle ensued as Jim fought to reel the salmon in without snapping his line in two.
Jim, 57, said: “It was a very strong and powerful fish. Ian was waiting to net it and I was there trying to wind it in and just hoping that my tackle wouldn’t break. The rod was well bent. Although you have to keep pressure on the fish, you cannot put too much pressure on as the line might snap. It’s all about keeping balance.”
Eventually, the monster salmon was dragged, inch by inch, to the river bank, where Ian, a boatman with 25 years’ experience, was waiting with his net.
Jim was utterly exhausted after the struggle. He said: “I felt knackered afterwards and my arm was really quite painful.”
Struggling to lift the fierce-looking-swimmer, the pair then measured their catch, discovering it had a length of 50 inches and girth of 25. Its weight was estimated – conservatively, say Jim and Ian – at 37lbs.
“I think I was in shock when I saw just how big it was on the bank,” said Jim. “And at that point, I felt very grateful to Ian for all his experience. Of course, I was happy as well. And just amazed a fish that big was even in the area and that we had managed to catch it.”
But the pair said their success would not be followed by weeks of salmon-themed dinners. Shortly after booking the weight, they dropped their prize back into the river and watched it swim happily off.
Ian said: “You could see from its size and colour that it had been in the river a long time. So we let it go, which we thought was better from a conservation point of view, but also because if a fish has been in the area a long time, it means it has used up a lot of body fat, and the flavour really isn’t as good.”
Ian, 49, from Bemersyde village, said: “The 37lbs we booked the fish at was probably an underestimate – it’s the fish of a lifetime.”
The fish weighed the same as a BMX bike or a small chest of drawers. It would need to go some way, however, to match the Scottish record. The size of that catch? A whopping 64lbs.
Tip the scales in your favour
LANDING a whopping salmon isn’t easy.
Here’s ghillie Ian Farr’s five top tips to landing the perfect catch.
With 25 years of salmon fishing experience under his belt, he knows what he’s talking about.
1. Make sure the rod is kept upright at all times. Harder than it sounds, this is crucial to landing a prize fish.
2. Make sure the rod line is kept tight throughout the catch. You don’t want any slack.
3. Keep constant pressure on the fish while maintaining a good bend in the rod.
4. When the fish is close to landing, make sure its head is kept close to surface so it can be more easily netted.
5. Don’t rush the fish – be patient!